Islam and Sustainability

Islamic environmental ethics can be based on the following principles: One God (Tawhid), Stewardship (Khilafa), Responsibility (Amanah), Balance (Mizan) and Justice (Adl).

The seven heavens, the earth, and all that is within them give glory to Him. There is nothing but gives glory to Him with His praise, though you do not understand their hymns of praise. He is Most Forbearing, Exceedingly Forgiving.” [Quran 17:44]

Everything is subject to the will and omnipotence of Allah. At the same time, human beings represent only a part of creation, which was created exclusively to serve Allah.

“Thus We have made you trustees (khulafaa) on the earth after them, to see how you would act.” [Qur’an 10:14]

With the task of stewardship, Allah both honours and tests man. If man is allowed to make use of nature on the one hand, then on the other hand he is responsible for the balanced and sustainable use of it. For nothing is in man’s possession; rather, he rules over the entrusted property that Allah has placed at his disposal.

Verily we offered the entrusted property (Amanah) to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish [Quran 33:72]

The principle of the Amanah is that the earth has been entrusted to man and it must be cared for and protected accordingly. As such, he has the task of cultivating the earth sustainably and maintaining ecological balance. 

O Children of Adam, dress well whenever you are at worship, and eat and drink [as We have permitted] but do not be extravagant (Mizan): God does not like extravagant people.
[Quran 7:31]

Allah created a perfectly balanced world on the basis of sustainability and circularity. This balance must be maintained by man acting moderately, thoughtfully and justly. Waste, pollution and destruction are the very qualities that Allah abhors. 

“(…) and Allah does not intend to do injustice to (anyone in) the worlds.” [Qur’an 3:108] 

According to Islam, the Creator is, undoubtedly and without exception, just in His work. Injustice towards creation, on the other hand, undoubtedly emanates from man. Therefore, dealing with the environment is always a question of justice.